Shell companies behind shell companies, as well as nominee directors provided by law firms, added more disguise to Mirakhmedov’s holdings. For him as for other clients, BSI turned to a Panamanian law firm to supply the nuts and bolts of secrecy. Not Mossack Fonseca, whose files formed the vast Panama Papers leak of the past month, but another leading firm in the former Spanish colony, Alemán, Cordero, Galindo & Lee.
In one typical example, Alemán lawyers conducted a series of five interrelated transactions in a single day. First, they incorporated a new company in the British Virgin Islands, where corporate records are closely guarded. Next, they appointed Alemán agents as directors. Those directors arranged for the BVI company to issue 50,000 shares and transferred them to a company in Panama controlled by Alemán. That Panama company then signed declarations that it held those shares on behalf of Mirakhmedov and an associate. Finally, the BVI company granted the two men power of attorney over its affairs. By the end of the day, Mirakhmedov enjoyed control of an offshore company in which his interest was visible only to those privy to the law firm’s confidential files. Alemán did not respond to questions about its work for BSI clients.